More than 300 United Steelworkers union members have been on strike at the Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) facility since May, grappling over a new contract, according to Reuters. The three-month stalemate hinges on workers’ demand for better benefits and working conditions and tougher subcontracting restrictions, as well as a company promise to keep its defined benefit plans, rather than shift to a 401(k) plan.
The union filed the complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after worker Kim Gordon used the word “scabs” to refer to replacement workers at the facility, which supplies the Navy with nuclear fuel for submarines and aircraft carriers.
The term has several definitions according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate dictionary, which include references to a worker refusing to join a labor union, a union member who refuses to strike, or a worker who replaces a union worker during a strike.
The union argues that Gordon’s firing violates NLRB laws that allow non-supervisory employees to express their opinions on labor matters.
NFS said in a letter obtained by Reuters to Gordon that her values were not in step with those of the company. The letter to Gordon further stated that: “You have recently demonstrated your lack of respect for your fellow employees by referring to the newly hired employees as ‘scabs.’ This term is derogatory and demonstrates your intent to try to intimidate and harass employees who have been hired to replace the striking union employees.”